World Toilet Day: Linking Sanitation and Nutrition

November 19, 2015

“The 2030 Agenda calls on us to renew our efforts in providing access to adequate sanitation worldwide. We must continue to educate and protect communities at risk, and to change cultural perceptions and long-standing practices that hinder the quest for dignity.”

– U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

World Toilet Day is about the 2.4 billion people who lack access to improved sanitation, and the nearly 1 billion people who still defecate in the open. Poor sanitation increases the risk of disease and malnutrition, especially for women and children.

This year, World Toilet Day focuses on the link between sanitation and nutrition: a lack of access to clean drinking water and sanitation, in conjunction with an absence of good hygiene practices, are some of the root causes of poor nutrition. Defecating openly means diseases like diarrhea and intestinal worms can quickly spread. According to the World Health Organization, roughly 50% of all malnutrition cases are associated with repeated diarrhea or intestinal worm infections as a direct result of inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene. And, a vicious cycle exists between diarrhea and undernutrition, especially for children.

World Toilet Day highlights these realities, and seeks to raise awareness about the people across the globe without access to a toilet.

While there had been improved sanitation and access to toilets since the Millennium Development Goals began in 2000, the global community has fallen short. Despite the human right to clean water and sanitation, severe inequalities in access to toilets threaten the survival, health, dignity, and safety of vulnerable populations.

That’s why The Hunger Project works to empower rural communities to ensure increased access to clean water and improved sanitation, the development of new water resources, and the implementation of water conservation techniques. In Africa, for example, 961 latrines were constructed, installed, or rehabilitated in 2014. And in India—where open defecation is the most ubiquitous in the world—Elected Women Representatives go from community to community to help equip women and girls with knowledge and information about proper sanitation and hygiene.

Today, we encourage you to take action and help promote the idea that more needs to be done to improve sanitation. Make your voice heard and show #wecantwait any longer and that everyone worldwide must have access to a toilet.

Learn more:

Our Issues: Water and Sanitation
Leadership in Action: Water and Sanitation Booklet